Maggie Dawson believes in the importance of nutrition – not only to individuals, but to countries.
Acting on this premise, the senior nutrition and health sciences major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Honors Program student applied for and earned a Boren Scholarship to take her to Mozambique. While abroad, she will learn Portuguese and volunteer through CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere), an international organization focused on alleviating poverty.
The Boren Scholarship, part of the National Security Education Program, provides funding for U.S. undergraduates to study less commonly taught languages in regions that are critical to U.S. interests. This year, 171 awards were offered from a pool of 750 applications. Dawson applied for the special African Flagship Languages Initiative and will first study Portuguese this summer at the University of Florida. In the fall and spring semesters, she will attend the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique.
Dawson applied to Mozambique because of the effects of malnutrition on the country’s health and economy after a period of civil war. She is aware of the economic and political effects nutrition can have on a country. She acknowledges that “nutrition is a key component of international security and stability.”
Dawson has used her education at UNL to serve both the campus and Lincoln. She volunteers for health promotion programs at the City Campus Rec Center, leads cooking clubs at local elementary schools and works as a clinical nutrition services assistant for Bryan Health.
This will not be Dawson’s first trip to Africa. Last summer, she participated in a UNL-sponsored study abroad trip led by nutrition and health sciences professor Mary Willis.
Willis said of Dawson: “[She] has a remarkable zest for learning, especially where nutrition and language are involved. She readily gobbles up educational opportunities, but also takes critical advice and guidance along the way. I am thrilled to be a part of Maggie’s education.”
Dawson plans to apply to the Peace Corps to further her international work. She then plans to attend graduate school and receive her master’s degree in public health before beginning a career with the U.S. Agency for International Development as a nutrition specialist and registered dietician.